What Does Each Planet Mean in Astrology?

Updated on February 6, 2019
Jean Bakula profile image

Jean teaches astrology and metaphysics. She is a reader, author, ordained nondenominational minister, and member of the NJ Metaphysical Ctr.

Moon and Planets Travel Around the Sun

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The Sun

The Sun is where and how you shine! It represents the need to have a healthy self image, and shows what core traits and needs make up the person you are. This energy provides vitality so you can live well and thrive. The Sun rules how we express our stronger qualities, how we create, and what guidelines we live by.

But we all have a strong sense of what lines we cannot cross without compromising the essence of who we really are. The Sun acts as our center; it is the governing body which keeps us from internal chaos. Everyone has inner conflicts, and the Sun hears all of them and makes sense of them all. The Sun acts as our central director.

If we don’t allow our Sun to express itself well, we have identity crises and self doubt. We can feel insecure and have a sense of self-loathing. This can cause us to try to fool ourselves into thinking we are better than we feel inside. We then try to steal energy from others to build ourselves up. Always try to reinforce your sense of who you are, as sometimes it’s necessary to redefine ourselves. A healthy Sun gives us a feeling of self confidence, energy, and pride in ourselves.

*Each planet has a placement in a zodiac sign, and astrology house, which explains what area of life is most affected by the planet. Numerous aspects to other planets also make a big difference in your life’s path. The full meaning cannot all be interpreted unless you have a Natal Birth Chart cast by an astrologer.*

The Moon

The Moon is our emotional center, our heart, our need to feel nurtured, safe, and sheltered. It rules whatever makes us feel happy, secure, and comforted. Do you feel best in a busy environment; or surrounded by peace and quiet? Are you drawn to worldly or spiritual pursuits? Do you crave a lot of social activity, or enjoy long periods of time by yourself?

The Moon symbolizes the subjective, emotional ways we experience and react to life. It’s all about feeling and spontaneous responses to situations, it’s not about thoughts. Our Moon reveals how we care for others, and how we want to be cared about ourselves. It shows how we are vulnerable, and will protect the vulnerabilities of those we love.

Trust is one of the most important emotions, a primal bond formed when we lay ourselves bare to someone on an unconscious level. The Moon tells us what we need most, and also what brings us the most emotional pain. We feel hurt and angry when our trust is betrayed. When we can’t find a way to meet emotional needs, we feel unhappy.

It is very important to live a life where we feel protected and nurtured. But sometimes we must step outside of our comfort zones if we want to grow. The Moon represents our “inner child”, so when our dark side of the Moon comes out, we act immature. This side of us can be seen when our emotional needs are neglected—when we are in a relationship which doesn’t nurture us, or when we are dismissive of our own emotional needs.

Mercury

This planet rules our need to know, tell, and understand information in our own mind and voice. We do this by speaking, writing, singing, learning, or expressing what we know in any way, and wish to communicate. Mercury shows how a person gathers and organizes information, what subjects they like to study, and their approach to study.

Do you learn best with verbal or visual instruction? Do you study in an orderly fashion, or do you like to skip around, filling in the blanks as you go? Whether we learn something new formally or through the course of gossip, we try to make sense of it, by linking it to what we already know. This can expand or even entirely change our understanding of a topic. We learn not only by listening or reading, but also by observing what is going on around us.

Are you chatty, or do you prefer to speak only when necessary? Do you think about big issues, or more personal ones? Are you a stickler for facts, or a big storyteller? Do you share what you know spontaneously, or mull things over for a long time?

Mercury is vulnerable when we make premature judgments, are too open or closed minded, or get overloaded with information. Our information sources shape our ideas and opinions too, so try to get your information from a variety of sources to challenge your own views.

Venus

Venus is known as the planet of love, but it’s really about all kinds of relationships. No relationship is perfect all the time, but Venus is the part of us that yearns for as much harmony as possible.

This planet shows how we try to make ourselves attractive to others. It also shows how much effort we make to meet new friends, or to stay connected with old ones. How much energy do you offer others in a relationship, and do they make you feel accepted and appreciated for who you are?

Venus also shows us what else in life we appreciate and love. Did you ever hear a certain song, and feel an affinity with it? You feel like a new part of you has been discovered, reflected, and understood. That particular set of lyrics expressed something you may not have been able to, so you felt a connection to it.

Another concept of Venus is value or worth. Once we love another person, they become more important and valuable to us. Venus rules all things we find beautiful; clothes, art, music, antiques; even that same article of clothing you’ve been wearing for years that nobody else can stand.

Even though Venus is about love, it doesn’t carry that weight alone. Love includes the trust of the Moon, the passion of Mars, and the responsibility of Saturn. It’s all about our desire for togetherness and the concept of compatibility.

Venus has traditionally been interpreted as the “feminine” planet. Ancient astrologers used it to show how a woman attracted a man, or what qualities a man looked for in a woman. This is outdated and doesn’t reflect modern language or lifestyles. Stop that Women are From Venus, Men are From Mars nonsense. Everyone has Venus somewhere in their birth chart, no matter what their gender or style of sexual expression. Genders should not be assigned to planets in the twenty-first century. This astrologer interprets Venus as a measure of a person’s capacity to be responsive to others.

How Long Does It Take Planets to Circle the Sun?

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Mars

Mars is the action planet which causes desires, and we are driven to pursue what we most want. Mars is all about our will, the ability to make a conscious choice, and to act on it. When we do this, we express our intention, and commit our energy. Mars energy causes us to get out there and get what we need. This is a hungry energy, which drives us to conquer and possess something (or someone).

Mars has a way of causing conflict, or a clash of wills. Anger is a definite sign of conflict, a self defense mechanism. Mars shows what our passions are—what we pursue because we are motivated to capture, resolve, or fight something. Mars isn’t the same as Moon energy, which describes what we want, but because it makes us feel secure and content. Mars is about the kind of excitement or desire that makes your blood boil. This planet has much to do with our sexual nature, how we express our passions and drives. Mars represents the most primal part of us.

Mars symbolizes our personal power and gives us confidence. When Mars is wrongly used, we can be too aggressive and attempt to overpower others. Or we can subvert our will too easily and allow others to force their wills upon us. But Mars power also allows us to negotiate or surrender, not only attack. Even refusing to take action is an act of will.

Just as Venus has been associated with feminine energy for ages, Mars was associated with masculine energy. But Mars appears in every person’s Natal Birth Chart. Once again, it’s outdated to divide genders into tidy, little boxes. This astrologer prefers to interpret this pursuing, outgoing, yang energy as assertiveness wherever it appears.

Jupiter

Jupiter represents our need to hope, take leaps of faith, to try new things, and to do the impossible! We feel its influence when we are optimistic enough to get out of our own way, and out of our comfort zone. Sometimes we must let go of a sure thing in order to get something we want, but don’t have. This takes confidence and faith, also a belief that if we act; there will something better waiting in the wings.

Jupiter helps us suspend disbelief and negative thoughts. It brings out our natural tendencies towards goodwill and generosity towards others. We need to cultivate confidence and faith in ourselves, because when we do, we feel bursts of enthusiasm about exciting possibilities we may never have before considered. “Fake it until you make it” is a Jupiter concept.

If we get carried away and misuse Jupiter’s energies, we overdo it and bite off more than we can chew. This can cause us to overspend, overeat, volunteer for too many projects, or just forget how to say “no” to others. Faith and hope need to be balanced with reality and common sense.

Many people consider Jupiter to be the “good luck” planet. This astrologer doesn’t believe in luck. Life entails knowing when to take advantage of opportunities, or being open to possibilities which set good things in motion. Every now and then we all get a good break that seems to come from nowhere. But usually we find abundance, wealth, prosperity, and success when we say “yes” to opportunities more often.

Saturn

Saturn is the karmic planet, which represents responsibility, hard work, discipline, and commitment—all those “character building” experiences we need in order to mature. This planet causes limitations, hardships, and frustrations which test our inner strength. Saturn doesn’t make it easy for us; these issues are the ones that truly make you wonder if you can cope, or sometimes even make it through another day.

But limits define our parameters and give us structure. Once we are clearly shown what we can’t do, it challenges us to consider exactly what we can do. Saturn grounds us, keeps us accountable, and teaches us a sense of duty. We can accept responsibility in a grudging way, or take control and own it. Saturn work is cut out for you; achievements will require sacrifices, commitment, and diligence.

But hard work brings great rewards. You can have a happy, long term love, recover from a life threatening illness, receive that college degree you had to put off, or see a formerly deeply troubled child begin to live a happy and productive life.

We can feel so alone and scared when faced by life’s hardest problems, because others don’t always have the power to solve everything for us. So we learn self-discipline, self-control, self-sufficiency —in a word, maturity. Saturn teaches us the self-reliance we need to be the ones in control of our own lives. Sometimes to get something done, you have to do it yourself.

Saturn is the planet of self-empowerment. We can learn from mentors in our lives. We must learn to be discerning, even of authority figures, because all of them aren’t good. We mature and understand what rules and habits either help or damage us. Then we learn to make changes to aid our own growth and beliefs. We need to be flexible, to allow growth, and deal with pressure. A tree bends with the wind, and has the ability to endure. So do you.

A Uranus Inspired Quote

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Uranus

Planet Uranus symbolizes sudden and often erratic change, and rules our inner nonconformist. Uranus rules electricity, so when one feels the emergence of this amazing and electrifying energy for the first time, it is very eye opening. It brings out brilliant ideas others never had, and shows unusual pictures in the mind. Why was Ben Franklin running around outside with a kite in a lightning storm? Because genius, brilliance, and inspiration often show themselves in strange ways, ways that don’t conform to expected norms.

Cultures all have collective opinions about how individuals should live their lives, and will pressure others to be like them. Sometimes these are well-meaning people who truly want to help, but some are threatened or feel uncomfortable with a person who doesn’t want to follow their societal scripts. Some of us don’t “fit the mold”, and have to decide how much of ourselves we are willing to give up in order to fit in. Everyone feels this to some degree. But if the person has been bullied or ridiculed for being true to themselves, there may be no easy path to follow, so they will have to forge one of their own. We all have our own unique qualities to offer, and you alone must decide which parts of your personality are the ones to nurture.

Uranus is our inner rebel, our need to be free and independent. It gives us the ability to prove and assert our right to be an individual. But one should not rebel just to be contrary. We need to be independent of how we have been defined by others, whether by race, culture, sexual orientation, gender, family, country, or any way society’s rules apply. Only you understand the true essence of the person you are, and have the right to define your own self. This may cause a need to detach or escape from pressures to get some breathing room to think. Rebellion can sometimes be the only way to break free and find yourself.

Neptune

Neptune expresses our need to experience the mystical, ethereal, and spiritual. It rules our intuitive and creative abilities, and is the doorway into our subconscious. We feel Neptune’s influence when we try to take ourselves beyond the known, and into what we sense or feel might be. This is our connection to the Source, Universe, God, The Divine, or whatever you perceive the unknowable to be. We seek to transcend the physical world and enter the metaphysical and spiritual ones.

Neptune rules our astral body, spirit, or soul. It tells how aware or in tune we are with them, and where our sensitivity lies outside the conscious realm. Whenever we dream or meditate, we are trying to experience consciousness itself, independent of the body. We are also trying to free our minds. Neptune encourages us to dream, but can also lead to escapist behaviors. If you are listening to music or reading a book, and get lost in it for a little while, that joy means you have entered Neptune’s realm. When our desire to be selfless overwhelms our need for self interest, we can achieve great acts of service and love. But if we give of ourselves to the point where we feel drained, then we have entered the domain of martyrdom. Each of us must learn where that line is.

The combination of empathy and intuition heightens our psychic sensitivity and intuitive awareness. Neptune doesn’t deal with facts; it provides a channel to our highest self. The knowledge we learn now is impressionistic, subjective, and life changing when it develops. Neptune lessons usually center on the space between the possible and impossible, the real and ideal, the imagined and the actual. We can imagine an idea or belief thoroughly, and even feel its experience. But the realities of trying to explain these experiences are so difficult. It is the yearning and opening of our consciousness which turns an ordinary experience into a spiritual one, the main job of Neptune. We are all spiritual beings trying to live in a physical world.

Pluto

Pluto is the planet of growth and transformation. You need courage where Pluto is concerned, because it forces you into survival mode. We would never know the depths of our inner strength unless it was tested, and Pluto does just that. If you have never experienced a “dark night of the soul”, then you don’t know what hell is. Pluto forces us to deal with hard and scary things. We need power to find the rewards of a journey we never asked to go on. This is the doorway into your personal Underworld. You can try to run from what it shows you, but you can’t hide!

Pluto gives us a deep sense of purpose, a conviction, fueled by passion and meaning. Pluto pushes us to the edges—engaging us in life or death choices or rescuing us from dire circumstances. Carl Jung used the term “the shadow” to describe the darkness surrounding us. We don’t want to acknowledge it. But these are the biggest clues towards finding our true selves, which reveal what we don’t want to admit about ourselves.

Knowing life can end at any time can help us focus on what really matters. It can fuel our desire to live life to the fullest. Sometimes we attract the wrong partners just to avoid anxiety about losing the right ones. Or we sabotage ourselves at the moments closest to our success, because we fear failure. Transforming pain into power often requires ridding ourselves of defense mechanisms that no longer serve us. Sometimes you must lose what means the most to you, but it’s necessary for you to live through these circumstances. Sometimes we become stuck, and Pluto gives us the cosmic shove we need to reinvent ourselves.

A Pluto Inspired Quote

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This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Jean Bakula

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      • Jean Bakula profile imageAUTHOR

        Jean Bakula 

        2 months ago from New Jersey

        Hi Paula,

        I am happy people are beginning to "discover" that article, there's a lot in it people don't consider when they think of astrology. They want to know the planets in the signs, but don't care about the planets themselves. I didn't forget you (lovely picture) and will get to that chart soon!

      • fpherj48 profile image

        Paula 

        2 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

        Hello Jean! Throughout the years, I have often made the effort to know more about Astrology. I am very fascinating by it all. I love this particular article. I can admit I've not ever looked into this particular topic. I know I'll be coming back here to re-read portions, as I review my own chart. I am excited about having my chart done by you.

        I did this once so many years ago, I've forgotten any of the information.

        Best of all, I'm comfortable and confident that you have the experience and expertise to provide fascinating revelations to me.

        Till then, Jean.....You take care & enjoy the arrival of Spring! Peace, Paula

      • Jean Bakula profile imageAUTHOR

        Jean Bakula 

        3 months ago from New Jersey

        Hi John,

        I am happy you enjoyed that one, it was a good refresher for me to rethink those things through as well. I have a Scorpio Ascendant and my Mercury in Gemini is in the 8th, or Scorpio house. I tried to keep it short, but I am incapable of writing under 3,000 words it seems. I like to dig deep! And I'm still an old school astrologer, I don't get sidetracked by asteroids and other stuff, there's already so much in our charts, we can spend our lifetime finding new things in them! Take care.

      • aerospacefan profile image

        John Lannoye 

        3 months ago from Chicago

        I loved reading this. My understanding of the planet are greatly enhanced now. Terrific questions for self reflection too! So much of what's out there on the web with the planets and astrology is the same boiler plate stuff. This was so comprehensive! Bookmarked

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